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Gov. Gordon rejects Secretary Gray’s attempt to tighten voter registration requirements

Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray. (Tom Morton, Oil City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — After determining that language in voter registration rules proposed by Secretary of State Chuck Gray exceeds his statutory authority, Gov. Mark Gordon has not approved the proposed rule package. The governor’s action follows the recommendation of the Wyoming Legislature’s Management Council.

“The State’s election code functions well, and the countless hours spent by volunteers, election judges, canvassing boards, county clerks, town clerks, your office, and numerous others have ensured for decades that Wyomingites can trust the state’s election results,” Gordon said. “While there may always be room to improve Wyoming’s election laws, this responsibility lies in the purview of the legislative branch.”

In a letter sent to the secretary of state, the governor emphasized that Wyoming’s elections are safe and secure and that existing laws already offer remedies to address voter fraud. Gordon stated that Wyoming’s election code “currently provides a comprehensive framework for how ‘bona fide residents’ can register to vote and how election officials can investigate or challenge their qualifications.”

The governor’s letter states that while he agrees with the foundational principle that only United States citizens who are Wyoming residents should be voting in Wyoming elections, currently available data indicate that Wyoming does not have a significant problem with either fraudulent voter registrations or the ability to investigate and verify voter qualifications.

Gordon further urged the state Legislature to provide clarity on the definition of the term “bona fide resident” and take the time to study the topic to ensure no eligible Wyoming voters are disenfranchised by any future changes. Wyoming’s county clerks have indicated in their public comment on these rules, as well as in past testimony to legislative committees, that this clarification is needed, and the governor agrees.

“Until the legislature provides more explicit rulemaking authority for the Secretary of State, county clerks must follow the methods for investigating and challenging voters’ citizenship and registration outlined in statute,” the governor wrote. “While I support addressing the county clerks’ concerns, assuming the worst when experience shows that our system continues to be effective at preventing voter fraud, does not support upending a decades long practice. We can always improve, and that discussion properly lies with the legislature”

Gordon’s letter to Gray can be found here.